Lesson 11: Avoiding Common Mistakes

What You’ll Learn: Failure is a natural pathway to success and is inevitable as you strike out on your own as an entrepreneur and small business owner. Bold ideas are, after all, risky. This module walks you through the life lessons of someone who has been in your shoes and shows you how to avoid some of the setbacks and struggles along the way.

Avoiding Common Mistakes (continued)

Grain of Sand #5

Don’t purchase all your inventory before your business gets off the ground. I wish I had known this. I still have boxes of baby supplies in my garage that I may never be able to get rid of. It is critical to invest your time and money in the right places at the right time. In the early days of a startup, you wear many hats, many at the same time. There are more needs than time, so you’re often in the moment. Find the time to think strategically and plan long term. Even if you are 150% focused on getting the product right, finding the right suppliers or securing the first customer success, you need to find the time and energy to focus on other aspects of the business such as building more pipeline, talking to investors, hiring the right employees and paying taxes.

Grain of Sand #6

Teamwork and collaboration are essential regardless of whether you’re in a small, medium or enterprise-level business. This is even more critical when you are doing a startup. If you’re a one-person operation, that’s not as big a challenge. But once you bring in other people, it is vital to get organized. Ensure everybody understands the direction the business is headed in. Just because the founders of the company know exactly where it’s going doesn’t mean that everybody else does. It is crucial for your growth that you keep up with informing the stakeholders, partners and employees. If everybody understands the direction and why decisions are made, there will be great teamwork and collaboration. If not, negative thoughts can creep in and they can become very destructive.

Grain of Sand #7

Don’t undervalue sales and marketing. You can be the best techie in the world with the most innovative product on the market, but you still need to market it and sell it.  It isn’t necessarily the best product that sells, but the product that is recognized in a way that makes it compelling to the right customer at the right time. Do not underestimate the value of a qualified sales channel and business development specialists. Bring the right people onto your team, find a well-rounded person who can position the story that needs to be told, and determine who can open doors and get in front of the people who can make the purchasing decision.

Grain of Sand #8

Put in the time. Eighty percent of my businesses failed because they were a side gig, something that I would do full-time once the idea took off and grew to be successful. I didn’t have the bandwidth to do my day job and give the attention needed to start a successful business at the same time. Sometimes, you have to take a chance and choose between something you already have – the stability you’ve become accustomed to – and the passion and calling that you want to pursue.